US Open Tennis 2012: Darkhorses Who Will Contend for the Title
This September, there may be a new champion in town at Flushing Meadows.
In the last seven years, there has only been one man not named Novak, Roger or Rafael to win a Grand Slam singles title, but there's reason to believe that could change in less than a month's time.
With the members of men's tennis' "big three" either absent or suddenly appearing to be not so invincible, this year's edition of the US Open presents a unique opportunity for some lesser-known stars to seize the moment and end the trifecta's run of absolute domination at Grand Slam tournaments.
Here are some of the darkhorses who will challenge for the title at Flushing Meadows this month.
It's difficult to classify the man who captured Olympic Gold at the men's singles tournament in London as a darkhorse, but Murray, who is still without a Grand Slam title, certainly isn't the favorite or co-favorite heading into the Open.
The Scot has had success at Flushing Meadows in the past, as evidenced by his runner-up finish in 2008, and after finally beating Federer with the world watching at Wimbledon last month, he just might have momentum on his side.
Assuming Murray and Federer both advance to the semifinals, they'll face one another once again with a spot in the Final at stake.
As the No. 5 player in the world, Tsonga won't surprise anyone if he reaches the quarterfinals at the US Open once again, but after consistently strong showings this year, it may be the big Frenchman's time to finally capture his first Grand Slam title.
Though he fell to Murray at Wimbledon and Djokovic at the Olympics, Tsonga has been in contention at each major event he's entered in the past 24 months.
Once he reaches the quarters, he'll almost assuredly be facing Murray once again. This time though, they'll be on hard court, which may play to Tsonga's strength.
At 21, Raonic is one of the best young players on the tour, and though he has yet to advance beyond the fourth round at a major tournament, his strong performance at last year's Australian Open indicates that he's capable of bigger things.
In a tough draw that features both Tsonga and Murray, Raonic will have to take down one of the big boys in order to reach the elite eight.
However, if Raonic's serve is on, there's no telling how far he could go, as the young Canadian has led the entire tour in aces in 2012.
Juan Martin del Potro
Del Potro is the only player outside of the holy trifecta to win the US Open since 2003, as he captured the title by beating Federer in 2009.
Since then, del Potro has been wildly inconsistent, and has advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam just twice.
Despite his recent struggles, the 23-year-old appeared to be on his game at the Olympics, where he defeated Djokovic to capture the Bronze in the men's singles tournament.
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